Musical Opinions: Are They Based on the Bandwagon?

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Devin Jones

Headphones, which are commonly used to listen to music. Copyright Devin Jones 2013

Devin Jones, Head of Photography and Media

Music is something that has been debated for years, with one of the chief disputes being over which musical genre is best or has the most talent. From classic bands like The Beatles to today’s One Direction, everyone has their own opinion on what makes music “good.” But is the idea of good music something that is influenced by the masses rather than personal opinion?

We, as humans, are being constantly influenced by those around us. From the music that our parents like, to the things that our friends and peers say, we are being constantly bombarded by the ideas and opinions of others. If enough people have a similar opinion, it becomes popular. Humans, desiring to be “cool” and to feel accepted, conform to this general idea. Before you know it, a full blown musical pandemic is spreading and a musical genre becomes popular. This is something that has happened plenty of times throughout history, with the peak of rock n’ roll in the late 60’s to today’s hip-hop craze, the general public can be easily swayed by mass appeal and the desire to fit in. This can all be generalized into one genre: Pop music.

However, not everyone likes a specific musical genre simply because it is popular. Pop music is designed, by default, to be easily relatable and easy to listen to. So it is understandable that plenty of people would genuinely like it. There’s nothing wrong if someone likes a genre of music for sincere reasons. However, it seems like a large portion of people listen to a genre of music simply because it is popular and not because they enjoy the musical style. They feel a sense of obligation to like music that is similar to that of their peers and drown their ears in popular songs rather than forming a musical opinion of their own. They find themselves swept up in the musical tide of their peers and, like a cult, they find it difficult to get out of the tidal wave of popular music. It’s the ideology of “Insert Name Here likes this so I should too!” that makes forming a solid musical opinion difficult.

Music is a large part of our lives. It gives us something to turn to when we are feeling down, amplifies our happiness, and is one of the oldest means of expression known to mankind. So why wouldn’t someone want to be able to form their own opinions on music? Because some are afraid to get out of the “mainstream” genres of music enough to form a solid opinion on music as a whole. Would anyone take someone’s opinion on Bob Marley seriously if they existed in a bubble of nothing but hip-hop music and had never listened to his music in their life? Certainly not. They wouldn’t be musically experienced enough to form a solid opinion on reggae music. The same could be said about country, rap, rock n’ roll, or any genre of music that one could imagine. The only way to be able to truly develop an opinion on music is to experience it for yourself and give logical, intelligent reasons defending your opinions other than “Well, they don’t play it on (insert radio station here) so obviously it can’t be any good.”

Don’t get me wrong, popular music isn’t bad in any way, shape, or form. There is nothing wrong with liking a popular artist or band. However, the decision as to why you like the artist or band should be made through musical experience and consideration; not because your friend enjoys them and you feel obligated to like them as well. The desire to fit in is only natural, but don’t be afraid to step outside standard genres of music and experience a different style every once in a while, ignoring the thoughts of your peers. It is, after all, your personal musical preference, not theirs. Forming a strong musical opinion will help you enjoy music even more.